Alberto Giacometti - Modern Masters London Tuesday, April 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Louis Cheronnet, Jacques Adnet, Paris, 1948, pl. 35
    Waldemar-George, 'Échec et Mat', Art et Industrie, no. 19, December 1950, p. 21

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot has been authenticated by the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti and is registered in the Alberto Giacometti Database, the online catalogue of authentic works by the artist, as number AGD 2820.

    Alberto Giacometti, one of the most influential sculptors and painters of the 20th century, showed an early understanding of the dialogue between popular culture’s interest in games and art. Many artists engaged with Surrealism embraced games as a system of experimentation, attempting to escape what they knew and explore their imagination. In the thirties, having met the Surrealists, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton and Salvador Dali, Giacometti began constructing sculptural game boards such as On ne joue plus, 1932, incorporating miniature figurines into a projected reality. The present lot is a development from these early minimalistic boards and sees Giacometti’s figurines brought together into a traditional chess set. Giacometti "wanted to be able to sit, walk, and lean on the sculpture", the literal movement essential to the game of chess invites the sort of physical connection that Giacometti sought in his work.

    The present chess set is an exceptionally rare œuvre by Alberto Giacometti and is known to have been made for the decorator Jacques Adnet. The chess set made with the artist’s interpretive quality, presents thirty-two chess pieces, sixteen of which are dark red instead of the traditional white. The individual pieces are not functional for the purpose of the game, and instead become sculptures in their own right. Annette, Alberto’s model, muse and future wife met Giacometti in Geneva during the Second World War. In 1946, around the time this work was conceived, Annette joined him in Paris. Annette lies at the heart of Giacometti’s female figure in his most celebrated sculptures and portraits. In the present lot, the bust of the queen in the chess set is reminiscent of some of Giacometti’s most notable female compositions.


Chess set

Glazed terracotta.
Largest: 13.7 cm (5 3/8 in.)
Smallest: 7.6 cm (2 7/8 in.)

Together with a certificate of authenticity from the Giacometti Commitee.

£40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for £50,000

Contact Specialist
Madalena Horta e Costa
Head of Sale
+44 20 7318 4019

Modern Masters

London Auction 27 April 2016